tv Today in Washington CSPAN June 18, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT
community of color and the war on drugs, he became a supporter for drug policy reform and she became increasingly aware of the growthly disproportional number of people of color incarcerated for drug offenses. she regularly speaks to the public on these issues and on the government failed drug policies. neil franklin, executive director, law enforcement against prohibition, a 32 year law enforcement veteran retired from the maryland state police in 1999. during the time on the force, he held the position of commander for the education and training division and the bureau of drug and criminal enforcement. as a speaker for law enforcement, neil is motivated by the high number of civilian lives lost and the many police officers who gave their lives in the unnecessary war on drugs. and stan.
>> "washington journal" continues. host: for the last year, mary kay henry has been serving as president of the employees international union. the labor chief in this headline from "the washington times" called richard trumka critical of the obama administration's handling of its proposed free trade deal with columbia. guest: we are all concerned by jobs in this country and all of the free trade agreements need to be handled with the concern of how we are protecting workers' rights in the u.s. is an important conversation to have as we try to figure of how to get 30 million people back to full-time jobs in this country. host: in one suggestion,
congress and the white house to fully embrace free trade. guest: my question would be if the bush tax cuts was supposed to create jobs, how is it we can make sure that does not vaporize if we did trade agreements do not vaporize job commitments as well? host: what does this tell you about the state of labor in american politics and the level of support that you and other labor leaders give the president in his reelection? guest: the state of labor is about the struggle of what labor leaders want for our vision of america. we think our way of life is being threatened in this country if because we cannot be expected
to own a house, retire with dignity, and have our children do better than we do. that's the debate we need in this country. it is what vision we want for america? host: as the president done enough? guest: we have made a set of steps in this country that provide the american auto industry. took it from a situation where it was going to be bailed out to now where we are producing jobs in this country and exporting more cars overseas than ever before. that is a huge step forward to that has happened under this administration. those kinds of actions where there is a business and government and wrecking people's partnership needs to happen across our economy. it would be great of the fortune 500 c e o's if we're trying to imagine with our government how we get back to work. >> the economic recovery has been different from past recoveries in part because the
middle class manufacturing jobs in cities like detroit, michigan, columbus, ohio, cleveland, ohio, buffalo, new york, those jobs have left. will they ever come back? >> 7000 new manufacturing jobs being created as ford's plan. i think it's completely possible. when you think about american innovation and we look at our history. after the great depression, we got people back to work. we put a man on the moon. we provide the american car automotive industry. we are capable of great things. manufacturing, health care, transportation, every sector has jobs proposals. we need to put our minds and money to it. host: did between 1989 and how long have you been there? guest: 33 years. >> 78% to 80% of political donations going to democrats and
2% to republicans. $35 million altogether from 1989 to 2011. breakdown the numbers. guest: we are proud that 300,000 of our members give $5 per month out of their paychecks in order to have a say in our democracy. and so, we think what we need to do is have strength at the bargaining table with our employers. we also have to have strength in the political process to restore some equity in this country. because things are incredibly out of whack when wells fargo can post record profits, get a tax refund, and lay off workers. something is out of balance. working people need a strong voice in our government to get things back into balance and to get back to where. host: is it safe to say the disparity between democrats and
republicans. guest: 32% of our members are registered republicans. frankly, what are members care about our issues. we want jobs. we want a fair immigration policy. we want to retire with dignity and we need quality at affordable healthcare for all. the basic american values. so that working people can expect to raise a family and have our children do better than we did. host: finish this sentence. the state of the u.s. economy today is -- guest: worse than it's been in a generation. host: what does that tell you about democrats in the obama administration? guest: the democrats in the administration took an economy that was on the brink of disaster when wall street had collapsed three months before he took office. he destabilize the economy. we have to think about stopping
the blame game between democrats and republicans and between the president and congress and we need solutions to get people back to work. host: part of that solution is happening now with the vice president sitting down with congressional members to figure out the budget. can both parties work out an agreement to raise the debt limit? and figure out setting priorities in spending cuts? guest: i hope so. what i am talking about, people getting to the table, we need the private sector at the table. we need the federal government, state government, city government, and working people? speaking about how we can restore fairness to this economy. it is not simply about getting the economy going again. we have terrible inequities in this economy when 30% of the national income that has been denigrated is consequent -- concentrated in the top 1% of our economy. that is not staring the
responsibility and prosperity for getting our economy going again. that terrible inequality has to get addressed. host: how do you gauge your support for the president and democrats in 2012? is a strong and solid, is it causes, is it cold? guest: we think we have to back its president in order to get america back to work. if we want to hold all elected officials accountable to making sure that working people get a fair shake. host: is that strong or lukewarm? guest: i think that i will be in conversation with our over 2 million members and volunteering to participate in the political process, because we think we have to demonstrate, to all elected officials that jobs needs to be the top priority for our nation. the head of the afl-
cio wants to put a limit on campaign contributions. guest: it should not stay as a conversation about obama, the democrats, the republicans. this has to be a conversation on how car into our country shares responsibility for creating jobs. i think that we should be trying to imagine more ways like ford has done to create 70,000 jobs. as part of the health-care union inside seiu, i need to be a conversation with afl-cio on isn't there a way for the private sector to create jobs and what do we need government to do to incentivize doing it on a scale? our broadband system needs to be refurbished. we want to bid to compete globally. ceo's whathe top 200 they think we should be investing in and then do private public dollar matches and get this country going again. we are capable of the
unimaginable in the u.s. that is what is so great about our country. in this moment we have lost that spirit. host: the relationship between organized labor and management has been often one of butting heads. we have not seen many strikes in recent years. is that a result of the state of the u.s. economy or better relations between labor and management? 0 guest: its one part of our history. inside seiu, much more the majority of our industry is labor-management partnerships. that helps us cut costs and improve quality and we can make sure people are care for in the safest way possible? in hospitals and nursing homes. i think what we need to do is create more labor-management partnerships. uaw has it whips ford. the teamsters have it with ups. those types of partnerships are really important for getting america back to work.
>> mary kay henry is the president of the service employees international union. phone lines are open. the numbers to call us: 202-624- 1115 for republicans, 624-1111 for democrats; 624-0760 for independents. and the consensus an e-mail o -- and you can send us an e-mail or a tweet. bob is on the republican line. caller: i travel a lot. i have seen some union members beat up a black fellow at a rally for the tea party. i've seen what is going on in wisconsin. you people are really despicable. is this how unions are suppose to act? i have been in the union's 40
years. seeing you people do this is despicable. there's a proper way to protest. host: where has that taken place? caller: where ever i go. hotels or anywhere. i go to pennsylvania, ohio, and west virginia. people see this. you are caught in the backlash -- you are causing a backlash, or destruction in this country. right now the people being laid off are people that had seniority. it's getting down to them. they're getting angry. guest: i think you are correct to be and frustrated about the terrible economic times in this country. i don't think that our union has participated in any protesting that has not been peaceful and nonviolent. and i agree that what we need to be doing is focusing a conversation on how do we make sure that when people go to work for a living that they can raise
a family, own a house, and retire with dignity. we need to restore our sense as a country that people can get rewarded for the work they do. host: how you respond to the sentiment that unions have driven entire industries offshore and ruin the entire economy is -- guest: i completely reject that view of unions. i think that is a picture that has been painted on us. i think we have a responsibility for making it crystal clear that what we do in this economy is raise wages. and that we're facing the greatest income inequality in our generation at this moment in time, and we need order to be able to have a voice at the bargaining table? in order to get a fair shake. host: service employees international union has how many members? guest: to appoint two members -- 2.2 million members. they are about $11 an hour on
average. many of them don't have benefits. some earn between $50,000.70000 dollars per year. the dues range from $20 per month up to $100 per month host. host: you are on the line. caller: the man that just called, he knows nothing about what is going on about people really getting laid off. i got laid off. i worked for a holy cross' children services eight years. i was not in a laptop tier. i was a crook. -- i was not in the top tier. we needed a union because that would have helped us keep our jobs. i am all for the union.
we need to talk to the little people and not the high class ones. i am for the union. i hope to keep the unions. we need to get rid of democrats, republicans in the house of representatives because they are talking about less government. that is a government we do not need. thank you. guest: thanks for your comments. i think your experience with being laid off is something that we need to address as a country, because it is not right that it has happened to you at toll across while horizon is making $24 billion in profits, not paying any taxes and laying off 20% of its workforce -- verizon. guest: now, john from michigan. good morning on the democrat line. caller: it boggles my mind to
hear republican callers saying that unions are bad and that the union guys are causing a problem. it is clearly not the rich, andrful eo's and-- ceo's bankers refusing to put the country back to work. re are in three wars and thei are no taxes to pay for the course. you are asking the rich to pay a few more dollars in taxes to support the war and bring the country back to work. the only answer the republicans can give us is no. that is ridiculous. anyone who thinks that it's ok, you must be out of your mind. another problem we are having with obama, his first two years
when he had control of the house and congress, he should put his policies in place then. now he is fighting and begging republicans now and it's a mistake. he should've done by george bush did when he came in office. george bush, i give him credit on that. he did what he thought was right and the backlash later. host: thanks for the call, john. james says, does the brother know the reason the unions or from the beginning? guest: i think the michigan brothers spoke to the inequality that we are talking about, in the upside-down conversation we are having in this country. i agree that if we need to look historically it to unions formed in a time that was not unlike the moment we are currently
experiencing the in our economy, where millions of people are out of work and cannot find jobs. 5 million people have lost their homes to foreclosure and the greatest income inequality that we have seen since the great depression. we don't have a problem of not enough money in our country. we just have a problem with how the money is being invested. that is the question i think we need to call on ourselves. host: $0.4 billion in dues. gary says -- guest: we do not control all of our pension funds, because a lot of our members are in public pension funds. what we tried to do is work with public pension fund investments to make sure that they are concentrating on infrastructure investments to get people back to work. dues money is used to represent the people we currently bargain wickes, members currently in
collective bargaining, and to outreach to more non-union workers so they can have a voice on the job. host: you have been on the job with seiu since 1989. tampa been strikes since then? guest: yes, two% of all the collective bargaining that has occurred in the last 30 years has resulted in strikes. host: what are the lessons? guest: the ones i have been directly involved with, what are member leaders would say is it was a way for them to advocate for their paychecks. we made major breakthroughs in making sure there were enough stamps on hospitals. -- advocates for their patients. people don't like striking because they don't like the destruction in their family or in the service. so i think there are some ways in which strikes have resulted in labor-management partnerships are now ways in
which people can really participate in reducing employer cost. host: a lot of people weighing in on our twitter page. guest: i think in this moment, steve, warfare has been declared on working people. the unions are not declaring this war. there is a set of corporations in the u.s. that has made a decision not to reinvest their profits and are making record profits and cutting down on jobs. that is a set of decisions that we think we need to challenge. host: our guest is the president of the service employees international union. it linked to their web site is available to our web site at c- span.org. what is the mission statement of your union? guest: that we are committed to improving the lives of working people and ensuring a just and
humane society. host: brine is joining us from michigan. republican line with mary kay henry. go ahead. caller: thank you. i am a republican, but i do support you. i have been union and non-union. now i own my own business. i would like to see the free trade and nafta agreements being brought out into the open. i've never understood why they are not. i'm old enough to realize where we are headed as a country is actually back to 1960 and wage levels. i think corporations would love that. but i would also like to speak about the influence of television and media and the advertising dollar, whether it is the big three or the other
corporations, the influence of that dollar is the word that gets out. i would appreciate if you would think more along those lines. america needs you to wake up. unless you want to start making $2.50 and think you can get by, this is the way we are headed. i support you and i wish you luck. guest: thank you. you have made a point, that real wages in the u.s. economy have not risen since 1974. that's because of rising health- care costs and because of rising cost of living and because workers having a say through collective bargaining has been decreasing. those two things, we think, do make me believe that the collar's idea that we could be headed to $2.50 per hour jobs is not far off, because the wages are getting more and more depressed in the u.s. economy and we have to think about how to create good jobs that people
can support their families on, so that we can begin to consume host: again that the subject of this e-mail. tony says -- how do you respond to that sentiment? guest: about the founding fathers in this country, i think about them. i believe the country was founded on the notion of freedom and equality for all. and so, i think that both things are possible at the same time. host: and on the other side -- guest: i pitted its unions, government, employers, and working people working together to make sure we can steer the
prosperity being generated -- i think it is unions. host: and we have a caller. caller: i want to ask a question. who is the biggest donor of seiu? guest: we have 300,000 individual members that donates $5 to $7 per month out of their paycheck. it is a collection of individuals working people that unite together to have a strong voice in our government. host: do you have outside donors or contributors? guest: we do not. host: san antonio, texas, democrat line, gigi. caller: good morning. i have worked on both sides of the street, for union and non- union. i am 68 years old.
when unions, into a place of business they slowly but surely choke the business out of business. you charge $25 a month for d ues and anything else you can get. it is not fair to the american people. all you do is take and not give. as soon as you get in, you promise and you promise. there's nothing that you do except for take the business and choke it until it has to close its doors. that is the way i see it. we have a president that is all show and no substance. host: as a democrat, will you support president obama for reelection? caller: absolutely not. host: will you vote for the republican nominee regardless? caller: i have no idea who is
running. we have about 18 that have thrown their hats into the ring. it is too early to know what is going on until we, the american people, can see and hear what the republicans after sec. host: who did you vote for in 2008? caller: i did not vote for barack obama guest: i completely respect that you have an experience that is different from thousands of people that i know where unions have been a part of helping businesses expand. there have been many health-care employers that we have worked with or securities firms we have worked with where we have been able to expand the business. i am sorry that you had that experience. but what i know about this country is that behalf to figure out how employers that are generating record profits and individual ceo's that are taking home record bonuses have some
responsibility for dealing with the terrible economic inequality in this country. and so, that is what i think all working people should be joining hands together to think about how to make happen with our government and with corporate america. host: two questions from brian -- guest: we are against right to work because it weakens the working people's voices on the collective bargaining table and in the political process to our democracy. every working person has a choice whether or not to join a union when it is formed in the workplace. so, yes, i agree people should have a choice of whether or not to join. host: are they required to be a member after it is formed? guest: it strengthens the collective bargaining agreement
and to reap the benefits made by the original union members. yes, everybody is required to participate. host: outside new york city, republican line. caller: how are you? good morning, america. steve, i hear that you will be at president roosevelt's house at a book reading festival. host: i will not, but c-span will be there, hyde park, live on c-span 2 and you can check it booktv.org.k caller: state employees in new york, 9000 of them, about to lose their jobs. we had $17 million in stimulus package to save president roosevelt's house.
you guys at c-span 2 can find that story on the internet and there are multiple story lines to follow. as to the wage is going down, a guy got a job at roosevelt taus and his pay was $79 per hour or. while your clue is there tomorrow, maybe they would walk the grounds and take a look and do some videotaping and show the rest of america the chinese money that we got. -- while your crew is there. host: we will be live at hyde park in new york. this year we will be live although it has been taped in the past. the schedule is on line. now, harold from houston, texas.
caller: good morning. i have a question for the lady that is with you. it seems like in may of this year, a celebration in california, i believe it was los angeles, the communist party came out and have the support of this union. i would like to know her comments on that because she is about in the same thing, the distribution of wealth and redistribution and that sort of thing. i want to hear what she has to say on their support of the communist party. guest: we have 250,000 hard working members in the city of los angeles. i have not heard that story from them. what we are really committed to doing in the city of los angeles is making sure that the most devastated communities in south central where the unemployment rate is 50% and when about half of the residents of l.a. don't have access to health care, those are the kinds of issues that are members in l.a. are struggling to try to address.
host: and a statement from our twitter page -- guest: hmm. host: no response. now to market in new york. caller: good morning. thanks for taking my call. i had 15 years in the local seiu. i've got notices i may have lost that pension in the bernard madoff scandal. i was wondering if the status of that retirement pension and were any of the hedge fund managers fired for a lack of due diligence on that? guest: i don't know the specific information. if you want to contact us on our web site at seiu.org i would be happy to make sure you get an answer.
host: there's a comment from susan about the federal reserve. guest: i just think those questions do not address the fundamental problem that we have with wage increases in this country. i think we have a situation where more and more corporations are making a decision to force wage cuts when they are making record profits. what we are trying to have a conversation about is employers that make decisions to take advantage of workers economic insecurity in these times and trying to force wage cuts or layoffs when they are making record profits and ceo's are taking home record bonuses. i know of three cases inside our own union where that has happened in the last six months. that is the kind of conversation we think we are responsible for paying attention.
not the policies of the federal reserve, which matter for everyone, but as the labor union president, i am not an expert on that. what i am an expert on its collective bargaining and how that can be used to raise wages. host: when the employer is the state or local government, we continue to hear what's happening in ohio and wisconsin and other states, huge budget shortfalls in california. when states are dealing with that and you have union members working for seiu other states that are losing money or don't have enough money to pay wages, what are the solutions? guest: we would love for mni bank in wisconsin who has not paid a dime in taxes to pay some taxes in wisconsin and helped get wisconsin back to work. we would like the ceo of the bank to consider not taken a 12 million-dollar bonus at a time when the bank has not repaid its tarp money. over you like the bank to
consider not selling to a canadian owner. there's lots of different choices that are made by corporations that are not paying taxes to either the state government or the federal government where we can help restore some balance to both state and federal government and incredibly vital services that working people, elders, and the most honorable in our society need. if i think this country wants to be about the common good. i think it has to be about restoring some sense of fairness across the economic spectrum. host: as you look ahead in the political landscape in 2012, the democrats trying to regain control, senate facing 23 democratic incumbents or those seats up for election which could give the republicans control of the senate, and the president's own reelection effort, what do you see? guest: what happens in the political process is one part of a comprehensive solution.